‘International Day of Families — 15th May’

By Fayzaan A. Sayed, Member of Editorial Board at Light House

In a virtual world where the laptop is our father and the I-pad is our mother, where the smart phone acts as a sister and probably the old rickety desktop takes place of our grandfather, do we really need a family? Sad, but true, electronic gadgets have taken us by storm and have replaced the word ‘Family’ in the true sense. In this age and scenario, I feel it is all the more important to underline and emphasize the value of familial bonds, the love and care that can only be provided by a family. The sociological definition of a family is, “an intimate domestic group made up of people related to one another by bonds of blood or legal ties.” While the blood and legal ties, fortunately, still remain, however the warmth and bonhomie go for a toss in today’s families!

A family, they say, is like the many branches of a big tree, growing in all directions but having its roots intact together! It is these roots that make us what we are and it is our family that gives us a character and an identity. We have lost our human touch and consequently lost our ‘family’ too over these years, no wonder we have had to name a day as, ‘The International day of Families’ which is observed internationally on 15th May of every year.

In the year 2017, the observance focuses on the role of families and family-oriented policies in promoting education and overall well-being of their members. In particular, the Day is to raise awareness of the role of families in promoting early childhood education and lifelong learning opportunities for children and youth.

The Day highlights the importance of all caregivers in families, be it parents, grandparents or siblings and the importance of parental education for the welfare of children. It focuses on good practices for work-family balance to assist parents in their educational and caregiving roles. Good practices from the private sector in support of working parents, as well as youth and older persons in the workplace are also highlighted.

Some unanswered questions keep cropping in my mind every now and then — Where are those children who skipped ropes with their siblings, meticulously arranged seven stones one on top of the other to eventually scatter them with a shot, those families who read books together and shared stories every night? Of course, these are things that did not happen during my times but my parents, when they go down memory lane, tell me of these ‘stories’ which have now become folklore. Times have changed and how!! In this fast paced world, life whizzes in front of our eyes! Tired fathers and even more tired mothers are just not able to give enough quality time to their children. Such a shame! Isn’t this the same thing that will be carried on by the children into their lives, as they say, children learn by seeing and imbibe what their parents do?

Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “You do not choose your family, they are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” How profound a thought! Certainly, our family is a gift to us and we really don’t bother about it. We seemed to have received this gift from God, felt happy temporarily and then pushed it behind somewhere in attic and forgotten it!!

It is time to remember it and get it back from the old, dusty store upstairs! It is time to blow the proverbial dust that has layered it for years and keep it in a place where we give it the due importance it deserves. A family teaches us values and instills traditions and culture into us. We learn to love and care for each other in and through a family. A family teaches us what relations and emotional bonds are. Unadulterated respect for elders and pure unconditional love for the younger ones are some of the treasured values which we imbibe through the institution that is called ‘FAMILY’.

We must bear in mind that children from scattered and broken families do not have happy lives. They end up being nervous wrecks, inconfident and confused adults who meander slowly into the dark alleys of even darker worlds! It does not take investigative acumen of Sherlock Holmes to decipher histories of juvenile delinquents, as most of them are, sadly, products of broken families!

A family acts as an instrument of discipline. It is in a family we are walked through the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of life. Values and morals are inculcated by the elders of a family and these stand in good stead for the rest of an individual’s life. A family is the ground where one’s personality is developed, honed and polished. A family is a constant support to its members, be it, emotional, physical or financial.

It is therefore very important to value our family more than anything else. Not only is a family important, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that in fact it is everything! All members should make concerted efforts to spend time with each other and keep the fire alive. There should be ‘togetherness-moments’, festival gatherings, occasions to meet and greet, of course without digital gadgets, especially for children and teenagers.

I would reiterate Bishop Tutu’s words, Our family is a gift from God, lets cherish it and give the most to it. Eventually, there is nobody who we can fall back upon in difficult times other than our near and dear ones, our FAMILY….

About the Reporter:

Fayzaan A. Sayed is a member of the editorial board. Colours of life inspire him and books inject him with adrenaline. Read more about him here.